Barehead Glassfish, Ambassis dussumieri Cuvier 1828

Other Names: Bare-headed Perchlet, Dussumier's Perchlet, Malabar Glassy Perchlet

Barehead Glassfish, Ambassis dussumieri. Source: Nicolas Hubert, IRD / FISHBoL. License: CC BY Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike

A dusky grey and translucent glassfish dorsally and posteriorly, especially in young, silvery below, with a black membrane around the second dorsal-fin spine and between the second and third dorsal-fin spines, scales on back with black edges, black lines along bases of dorsal and anal fins and along the posterior lateral line in larger individuals.

Cite this page as:
Dianne J. Bray, Ambassis dussumieri in Fishes of Australia, accessed 09 Dec 2022,

Barehead Glassfish, Ambassis dussumieri Cuvier 1828

More Info


Although the species has only been recorded from the mouth of the Daintree River, Queensland, it may be more widespread in northern Australia. Elsewhere the species is widespread in the Indo-west Pacific, form South Africa to the Red Sea, the Seychelles and eastward around India and Australasia to the Philippines and China. Inhabits estuarine and coastal marine waters, also occasionally venturing into freshwater.


Dorsal fin VI-VII/I, 8-10; Anal fin III, 8-11; Pectoral fin 14-16; Lateral line discontinuous, 12-14 + 10-16 scales, interrupted below base of soft dorsal rays by 1-3 (usually two) tubeless scales; Vertical scale rows 27-28; Horizontal scale rows 9-10; Cheek scale rows 2; Predorsal scales 13-16 (11 or 12 in some early juveniles); Gill rakers 8-10 + 22-25 (7+17 in a 17 mm SL early juvenile); Supraorbital spines 1-5, usually 3-4; rostral spine. 
Body depth 33.3-39.2; head length 31.2-37.1; snout length 5.5-8.5; eye diameter 10.3-15.0; upper jaw (maxilla) length 10.4-14.1; caudal peduncle depth 12.6-14.8; caudal peduncle length 19.7-22.4; first dorsal-fin height 24.5-32.3; third anal-fin spine length 18.3-22.2.
Supraorbital spines 1-4, more numerous and more pronounced in larger specimens. Preorbital ridge smooth or with 2-3 small serrae; preorbital edge with 4-6 serrae (two in 17 mm juvenile); retrorse rostral spine present at all sizes. Preopercle ridge with 3-13 serrae; lower edge of preopercle with 6-31 serrae, these extending dorsally along rear margin of preopercle to about one-third its height in larger specimens. Interopercle smooth except for 1-2 tiny spines near posterior angle. (Anderson & Heemstra 2003).


In Australlia, the Barehead Glassfish has previously been misidentified as Ambassis gymnocephalus.

Species Citation

Ambassis dussumieri Cuvier 1828, Histoire Naturelle des Poissons 2: 181. Type locality: Malabar coast (Kerala State), India (lectotype).


Dianne J. Bray

Barehead Glassfish, Ambassis dussumieri Cuvier 1828


Anderson, M.E. & Heemstra, P.C. 2003. Review of the glassfishes (Perciformes: Ambassidae) of the Western Indian Ocean. Cybium 27(3): 199-209. PDF

Cuvier, G. & Valenciennes, A. 1828. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Tome Second. Livre Troisième. Des Poissons de la Famille des Perches, ou des Percoïdes. 490 pp. Paris: Levrault. 

Dahanukar, N. 2013. Ambassis dussumieri. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. . Downloaded on 10 June 2015.

Munro, I.S.R. 1961. Handbook of Australian fishes. Nos 1–42. Australian Fisheries Newsletter 15–17, 19, 20: 1-172 (p. 926, as Priopidichthys gymnocephalus)

Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89(1): 11-127 (p. 44, as Priopis gymnocephalus)

Quick Facts

CAAB Code:37310004

Conservation:IUCN Least Concern

Habitat:Estuaries & coastal waters

Max Size:10 cm TL

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CAAB distribution map